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Own goal: City loses U17 World Cup

Image Source: Goal.com

Aaditya Narayan
Bangalore, 04 Oct, 2016: Bangalore  has lost the opportunity to host any matches of the FIFA under-17 World Cup being held next year. This is because the Bengaluru Football Stadium is not ready.

FIFA's tournament director Javier Ceppi had made it clear earlier this year that all potential host venues must be completed by the end of October 2016. With the deadline near, work on the stadium has not even started.

Mr. A.D. Nagendran, treasurer of the Karnataka State Football Association (KSFA) said the association could not start work unless they were given the go-ahead by the Ministry of Youth Empowerment and Sports of the Karnataka state government.

He said, "We floated a tender in early 2015, and the Ozone Group won the bid. But unless we get permission from the state government, we cannot hand the property over to them. Under the current circumstances, we cannot host the World Cup. That is the truth".

The Sree Kanteerava Stadium currently hosts the city's I-League club, Bengaluru FC, but Ceppi had already ruled it out as a possible venue, saying that the facilities needed vast improvements to even be considered. There is a 352-point guideline that all host associations have been provided with, to adhere to or risk being removed as a venue.

On their part, Bengaluru FC said that they didn’t have a role in the process after their owners, Jindal Steel Works (JSW), had lost the tender to the Ozone Group.

Mr. S.A. Basheer, member of the governing council of the KSFA and the Bangalore District
Football Association said, "Under the current circumstances, the World Cup will not happen in Bangalore and FIFA has already earmarked other cities like Chennai and Ahmedabad as potential hosts".

Mr. Basheer added that it was unfortunate that World Cup games cannot be hosted here, as it would have been a great opportunity to project Bangalore as a top-class football venue on the world stage.

The fans too are gutted about these developments. Rohith Nair, a Bengaluru FC fan and a regular at I-League games said, “It's a shame the city won't get to host any U17 WC matches. India matches have drawn huge crowds at Kanteerava Stadium and both the national & club teams have received massive support, particularly from the West Block Blues contingent.”

Rohith also added that it would have been a wonderful opportunity to watch these youngsters in action and encourage them. He said, “We saw glimpses of the U16 team that played in the AFC U16 tourney in Goa and they look a very promising bunch. Bengaluru fans would have loved to watch and support that particular brand of attacking football.”

A spokesperson for the Ozone Group said they hadn't received any communication from either the government or the KSFA.

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